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Review: Hamlet 2

Hamlet 2

If you are a fan of dark, outrageous humor, you will Hamlet 2.

Hamlet 2 finally hits theaters today after first gaining industry buzz at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The Andrew Fleming-directed comedy stars British comic Steve Coogan as failed actor-turned-equally unsuccessful high school drama teacher Dana Marschz (the unpronounceable nature of his surname is a running gag). The greatest success Dana ever achieved as a thespian was a herpes medication commercial, an appearance on Xena, and a few infomercials.

But Dana’s not just a failure as an actor. He’s also lacking as a man. This impotent, talentless recovering alcoholic is about to lose his wife (Catherine Keener) just as the Tuscon high school that he works at is poised to cut funding for its drama department after his latest production — a stage version of Erin Brockovich, featuring his top students Rand and Epiphany (Skylar Astin and Phoebe Strole) — gets ripped to shreds by the school paper’s puny, pubescent critic.

With his job, marriage and perhaps even his sanity at stake, Dana needs to do something big and exceptionally creative to save himself. He needs a masterpiece, and his masterpiece is Hamlet 2: a stage musical sequel to the Shakespeare play. This Hamlet gets a time machine that allows him to travel through time to not only save characters killed off by the Bard in his downbeat original, but to also bring in historical figures ranging from Jesus to Hilary Clinton.

Even when the school board tries to shut the play down, and the ACLU (represented by Amy Poehler) come to the rescue, Dana vows that the show must go on. He finally stages his epic production, which culminates with the already classic “Rock Me, Sexy Jesus” number featuring Dana as Christ clad in a wife-beater and ripped jeans. Dana even gets support from his favorite actress, Cocktail’s Elisabeth Shue appearing as herself, who has quit acting to become a nurse.

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